Sweden is a very friendly and beautiful country. If you are a nature lover, this is the place to be for you. There are beautiful green forests wherever you go, and the coasts are spectacular. But Sweden also has a rich history and amazing old towns and cities. Although Sweden is a huge country (it's 1,844 km / 1,146 mi from Malmö in the south to Kiruna in the north), you can get a good taste of what Sweden has to offer if you cross from Gothenburg on the west coast to Stockholm on the east coast. We have made an itinerary for a 9-day trip.
Sweden's second largest city, Gothenburg, is situated on the west coast of Sweden in the beautiful province of Bohuslän. It is a vibrant city with lots of students, charming cafés and restaurants and a historic center with lovely architecture. The city is full of beautiful buildings and monuments, serene parks and enjoyable spots on the waterfront.
One of the highlights is the Haga district, at walking distance from the downtown area. It is full of historic buildings, interesting shops and there are plenty of vegan restaurants. You won't have any problems finding vegan food in Gothenburg, or Sweden for that matter. Sweden is surprisingly vegan, even away from the cities. Even if restaurants or cafés do not advertise vegan food, they will always veganize dishes or make vegan food for you.
For sightseeing we recommend climbing the Skansen Kronan. It is a steep in hill in the center of town, with a fortress on top, offering magnificent views of the city. The botanical garden is also worth visiting, you can easily reach it by taking a tram or bus.
In and around town
I would certainly recommend getting a public transport card for 1 or 2 days. There are very good connections everywhere by bus and tram. Most of the city ferries (in the harbor area called Göta Älv) are included in the ticket, and even some ferries going to the islands in the archipelago.
If you have seen most of the city highlights on your first day, we recommend going to the islands in the archipelago on your second day. A downtown tram will take you right to the ferry terminal. Most ferries are conveniently included in the public transport pass. You can choose one island or go island hopping all day long. Styrsö would be a good choice, with plenty of walking options around the island. These islands are a good example of what Sweden's west coast has to offer: rocky coastlines, beautiful cottages, charming harbors and quiet surroundings. Some of the islands do not even allow traffic on them, all transport is done by electric golf carts.
Gothenburg to Karlstad (308 km / 191 mi)
In one day you can make it to Karlstad, on the northern edge of lake Vänern. Although Sweden has a fairly good public transport system and long-distance buses and trains, it does not allow you to make all the stops you would want, so we recommend renting a car from one of the downtown depots. Driving in Sweden is a charm, there is hardly any traffic and Sweden are very polite drivers.
A great first stop is Marstrand, a lovely island with a castle and beautiful buildings, about an hour north of Gothenburg (you would have to make a detour to get there). The ferry (no cars) is just a formality, it only takes a few minutes. You could swim across if you wanted to. If you can allow yourself an extra day in the itinerary, this is the perfect place to rent a kayak. I have done it myself a few times, there is no better place to paddle around then here. They rent out sea kayaks, so you steer with your feet and propel with your arms. Floating between the rocky outcrops is just amazing. If you feel adventurous enough you can also circle the island on the wavy sea.
Stops along the way
For lunch we recommend stopping at the Konghalla Center, on the edge of town, right next to the road. Not charming, but it has many places with vegan food. You can choose from pizza, burgers, salads, Korean and many more.
Between here and Karlstad there are a few places worth visiting. The first one is the Dalsands kanal, a man-made waterway with an elevated section for boats. You can walk around, visit the shops and cafes or spend some time in the very informative visitor center.
In Fengersfors you should certainly pay a visit to Not Quite, an abandoned factory now taken over by artists. Most of the buildings still look like they used to, with many machines still inside. The spaces now have art inside them, which can you visit free of charge. There are shops and a lovely cafe.
Karlstad is the end of this days itinerary. It's an interesting city with some sights on offer. For instance the nature reserve of Mariebergsskogen, or one of many museums. You can find more information on the city's website. The main reason to stop in Karlstad is the good selection of nice hotels and (vegan) restaurants.
Karlstad to Mora (245 km / 152 mi)
Today's final destination is Mora, center of Swedish culture. A beautiful city in the province of Dalarna. Dalarna was made famous by that Swedish furniture manufacturer, IKEA, with iconic images decorating its stores. If you follow the E45 road north towards Mora there are a few places well worth a visit.
Fast food & 'loppis'
Make a stop at Gräsmarks kyrkan, a beautiful historic church in a lakeside setting. A little further along, the town of Sunne is certainly worth a visit. It is situated between two lakes and has a charming center. A few kilometers north of Sunne is Diner 45, a lovely diner in American style, offering various vegan dishes. This would be a great place to enjoy your lunch.
Driving along the Swedish road you will probably already have seen many signs with 'loppis'. A loppis is a second hand 'store', selling all kinds of household items, art, antiques and assorted junk. It's more like an American garage sale or British car boot sale. Every self-respecting Swede has a loppis in their own garden once in a while. Some loppis are permanent and have turned into businesses. There is a great one only 2 km from Diner 45, just of the E45 in Stöpafors. Please keep in mind that non-vegan items could be on display. This is Sweden after all, and hunting is a popular pass-time.
You can easily spend two full days in Mora. There are plenty of things to see and visit, for instance the Vasalopp museum. A small but interesting museum explaining everything there is to know about the world's biggest cross-country ski race. A spectacular race running 90 km (56 mi) from Sälen to Mora that draws 100,000 participants.
In summertime you can walk the Vasaloppet track, or parts of it. There are plenty of other walking tracks starting in Mora. I walked part of the Vasaloppet, enthusiastically cheered on by many, many mosquitos. 😉
Mora is a base point for many other activities. You can rent a canoe or kayak to go on lake Siljan or rivers surrounding Mora. Cycling is also very popular, you can even rent a rail-bike, a special kind of bike made to cycle on a abandoned stretch of railroad tracks. And of course you can cycle the Vasaloppet tracks.
If you are more interested in culture, there is an interesting outdoor museum. Siljans Forest Museum is a forestry museum showing you all about one the regions most important industries. Half an hour east of Mora you can visit the Dala horse factories in Nusnäs. This the place were the original Dala horses (the red lacquered ones) are manufactured, by hand. The production facilities can all be visited, and of course there is a large gift shop.
Sleeping & eating
Mora has a good selection of Hotels that also offer vegan breakfast, for example the Mora Hotell & Spa. A very good alternative is to rent a traditional Swedish cabin on the campsite, which is only a 10 min. walk from the city center. Eating out in Mora is also possible, but vegan options are not as abundant as in Gothenburg.
Mora to Stockholm (308 km / 192 mi)
Before you make your way to Sweden's capital Stockholm, there are a few things en route well worth a visit. In Rättvik, for instance, you can visit the Rättvik church and historic village, beautifully set on a lake. There is also an adventurous outdoor center in Rättvik with summer rodel tracks, where you can shoot down the mountain on a sled through a metal gutter. If you have never done this before, this is the place to do it!
In Falun you can visit the copper mines. An active mine up until 1992. The large open pit mine and historic buildings are all freely accessible and certainly worth some hours of your day. You can also visit some of 4,000 mine shafts on a paid guided tour, that takes you 67 meters underground.
Although there is a small restaurant at the mine, they didn't serve any vegan food when we were last there. For lunch we recommend going to the Kupolen Köpcenter in Borlänge a little further along the road. A large shopping center with plenty of vegan options, even sushi.
From Falun it's not that far anymore to Stockholm. We suggest you drop off your rental car on arrival. You won't be needing it in Stockholm as public transport is superb. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, but we usually stay in a Scandic hotel. Their breakfast buffet is enormous and there are a lot of vegan options. Best of all: it is included in the price. If you are on a budget, take a hotel away from the center and commute by tram or train. Otherwise pick one of many (Scandic) hotels in the city center. My personal favorite is Scandic Sjöfartshotellet, at walking distance from the old town and with great views across the harbor.
Two full days in Stockholm will give you an good impression of what is on offer. If your itinerary allows, you can easily spend a few more days here. Although Stockholm is not a vast city and most attractions can be reached on foot, it could be worthwhile to get a public transport pass. The trams that cross the city are frequent and convenient. So are the ferries crossing the harbor areas.
You certainly don't want to miss Stockholm's old town, Gamla Stan, narrow cobbled roads, lined with beautifully colored historic buildings, churches and castles. There is so much to see here, I would not know where to start. You can walk around for hours in Gamla Stan.
If you are up for some fun and activities, take a ferry to Djurgården island, only a few minutes away from downtown. Here you can buy a ticket for Gröna Lund, an amusement park with thrilling rides. Also on Djurgården are the ABBA museum, the Vasa museum with a restored historic ship and various other museums. Some of them you can visit for free. Then take a tram back to the center and visit the astonishing Stockholm City Hall or relax in one of many cafes in Kungsträdgarden.
A perfect ending in vegan paradise
Nowhere in Sweden you can vegan food easier than in Stockholm. There are too many places to name them all. One of my favorites is Hermans on the island of Södermalm. It's a buffet style vegan restaurant with outside terraces and great views of the harbor and the city. But there are many others!
This tour started in Gothenburg on the west coast and ended in Stockholm on the east coast. If you need to return to Gothenburg for your international flight, you can easily fly back from Stockholm's two airports or take a train or bus. It takes approximately 4 hours 15 min. We hope you have a great time in Sweden!!